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Construction industry has the highest suicide rate

construction suicide
Posted at 9:22 AM, Jul 13, 2022

DENVER, Colo. — Suicide isn't easy to talk about but it's necessary in order to acknowledge the pain behind it. As the movement to normalize mental-health issues becomes more prevalent, it's even more crucial.

Currently, the construction industry has the highest suicide rate compared to other industries.

Hundreds of feet off the ground, hanging off the side of a building, that's what life as a construction worker can look like.

"In construction, safety is a hot topic. We talk about that every single day on the job sites," said Molly Cape, marketing manager at MTech Mechanical.

Every day, these employees risk their lives performing dangerous tasks, but that's not where the biggest threat lies. Deaths by suicide are five times higher than all construction-related deaths.

"It started out of a personal pain of losing my brother to suicide," said Sally Spencer-Thomas, who is with United Suicide Survivors International.

Since her brother's death, Spencer-Thomas has devoted her life to suicide prevention, specifically in these types of workplaces.

"What most people don't realize is that the majority of people who die by suicide are men, it's one attempt, it's fatal and they've never stepped foot into any kind of mental health resource," Spencer-Thomas said.

Construction is a male-dominated industry where sharing feelings and talking about issues has long been considered weak, which in part, has led to these high numbers of suicide.

Daniel Carlin's company, Jobsite Care, brings doctors to injured workers and they've seen first-hand how that physical pain contributes to mental health problems.

"It is exceedingly common in construction, after you've been in it for 10 15 20 years, you are in chronic pain," Carlin said. "We sort of have our own little pandemic going on here with suicide in this industry."

It wasn't until recently the industry began to make changes.

"We're starting to send a message to those that we're working with on job sites just to say hey this is important and we encourage you guys to talk about it too," said Murphy.

Dan Lester works for Clayco, a national design-builder, and he has seen changes starting from the top.

"When you have those folks at the top levels championing the cause, that's the first part but then you have to have your middle management, those who are actually applying this work talk about it," Lester said.

As someone who has experienced thoughts of suicide himself, he knows how much that support along with sharing personal stories means.

"Anytime I share my story, anytime I begin to remotely share my story or even talking about the issues and making that personal connection with people, I am always approached by some of the roughest, toughest looking gentleman in the room that will come and tell me that was me," Lester said.

As experts explain, when people don't talk about suicide, it becomes invisible. They say realizing the impact is necessary to preventing suicide.